Sundance Film Review: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (dir by Macon Blair)


(With the Sundance Film Festival currently taking place in Colorado, I am currently reviewing films that originally made a splash at Sundance!)

This is a sad story.

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore created quite a stir when it premiered at Sundance last year.  It may be hard to believe but, for a brief while, this film has just as much Sundance buzz as both Mudbound and Get Out.  It even won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, which has helped to launch many independent films into the public consciousness.

So, why isn’t I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore a better known film?

Unfortunately, the distribution rights for this film were purchased by Netflix.  With very little fanfare and, as far as I can tell, not even the briefest of theatrical releases, Netflix started streaming I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore on February 24th.  With Netflix putting most of its promotional muscle behind Mudbound, I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore has been somewhat overlooked.  You can watch it, of course.  You can go on Netflix and you’ll find it sitting there with Sandy Wexler and maybe a Uwe Boll dragon movie.  Obviously, some distribution is better than no distribution and I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is probably too quirky of a movie to have ever set the box office on fire but still, it’s hard not to feel that this movie deserved better.

It tells the story of Ruth (Melanie Lynesky), a nursing assistant who is having a bad day.  One her patients dies.  She has to deal with an elderly racist.  She gets stuck in traffic and can only watch helplessly as a truck spews toxic exhaust into the environment.  When she stops off at a bar and tries to read book, a stranger casually tells her how the it ends.  As you can guess from the film’s title, this is not the world in which Ruth wants to live.  While she’s not the type to demand perfection, would it kill people to be just a little bit considerate?

Things get even worse when Ruth returns home and discovers that someone has broken into her house.  Whoever it was didn’t get away with much, just some medication, some silverware, and Ruth’s laptop.  The police are indifferent and basically blame Ruth, telling her that it’s her own fault for leaving her door unlocked.  Her neighbors are even less helpful, all claiming that they didn’t see anyone breaking into Ruth’s house.  No one seems to care.

No one but Tony.

Tony (who is played by Elijah Wood) is one of Ruth’s neighbors.  He likes to listen to heavy metal music.  He likes to work out.  He claims to be an expert in martial arts.  We’ve all known someone like Tony.  However, it turns out that Tony is the only person as upset about the break-in as Ruth is.

Tony and Ruth work together to try to track down Ruth’s stuff.  It starts out fairly simple but then gets progressively more complicated (and violent) as things go on.  Ruth and Tony become unlikely heroes.  (In one of the film’s more memorable moments, Ruth witnesses a sudden burst of violence and reacts by throwing up.)  The world may tell Ruth and Tony that they should just accept things the way that they are but Ruth and Tony aren’t willing to do that…

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore was directed by Macon Blair, who previously starred in the thematically similar Blue Ruin.  It’s not a perfect film, of course.  There are a few uneven moments but, overall, the film is strong enough that I can’t wait to see what Blair follows it up with.  The best thing about the film is that it provides lead roles to Melanie Lynesky and Elijah Wood, two quirky and appealing actors who rarely seem to get the parts that they really deserve.  As played by Lynesky and Wood, both Ruth and Tony are so likable and sincere in their desire to make the world a better place that you can’t help but wish the best for both of them.

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is a good film and definitely one that deserves more attention than it’s received.  It’s on Netflix so, the next time you’re trying to decide what to watch, why not take a chance on it?

Previous Sundance Film Reviews:

  1. Blood Simple

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Bleed (dir by Tripp Rahme)


What happens when you take a little Paranormal Activity and mix it in with a little Rosemary’s Baby and then toss in Devil’s Due and then top it all off with a sprinkle of Deliverance and The Chernobyl Diaries and just a hint of the remake of I Spit On Your Grave?

You end up with a big ol’ mess of a movie.  I just watched Bleed on Netflix and the plot is so convoluted that I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I just watched.

But, before I try to figure this all out, let’s take a look at the trailer:

Sarah (Chelsey Crisp) is a newlywed who appears to have it all.  She’s got a wonderful husband, Matt (Michael Steger), they’ve got a beautiful house out in the country, and even more importantly, they’ve got a baby on the way!  So what if the nearby town seems to be a little bit creepy and is full of country-accented men with beards?  And so what if there’s a deserted prison nearby, one that is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a preacher-turned-serial killer who died when a fire broke out at the prison?  And what about that mysterious woman who keeps showing up in the nearby field and screaming like a banshee?  That’s just local color!  Anyone who thinks that’s unusual has obviously never lived in Oklahoma or visited Hot Springs, Arkansas.

In order to celebrate their new home, Sarah and Matt decide to invite their best friends out to the house.  Dave (Elimu Nelson) and Bree (Brittany Ishibashi) are a likable couple, especially now that Bree is regularly taking her medication.  Bree is schizophrenic and hears voices when she doesn’t take her meds.  To the film’s credit, it portrays Bree as a positive character and never goes down the path that I feared it would follow.

Suddenly, Sarah’s good-for-nothing brother, Eric (Riley Smith) shows up.  His girlfriend, Skye (Lyndon Smith) is with him.  The first thing that Eric does is ask for money.  The second thing that Eric does is get high.  The third thing that Eric does is talk about how he and Skye have spent the past few months driving across America and searching for ghosts.  And hey, isn’t there a haunted prison somewhere nearby?

Meanwhile, Skye takes a bath.  While she’s in the bathtub, she suddenly see an evil-looking apparition standing over her.  She screams for help and Matt responds.  The apparition has vanished.  Sarah glares at Matt and the towel-clad Skye.  “I didn’t know she’d be half-naked!”  Matt protests.  Of course not!  Why would someone get undressed before taking a bath?

Anyway, Eric convinces everyone but Sarah to search for ghosts with them.  Sarah drops them off at the ruins of the prison, promises to come back for them in a few hours, and then starts back home.  Unfortunately, she has an accident on the way back and ends up getting a ride with a creepy deputy.  And it quickly becomes clear that the deputy isn’t in any hurry to get her back home…

Meanwhile, at the prison, all Hell breaks loose.  Skye sees another evil spirit.  Eric’s throat gets slashed but oddly, it stops bleeding after a few seconds.  Voices are heard.  Objects move.  So many Paranormal Activity-type things occur that I’m actually surprised (and relieved) that Bleed wasn’t a found footage film…

One thing that Bleed does is that it keeps you guessing.  At first, I assumed it would be another city folk vs. hillbillies type of film but then it turned into a ghost story.  And, for a long while, I thought it was just another ghost story but then it turned out to be something different all together.  Admittedly, the film sometimes struggles to handle the constant shift in tone but, oddly, that kinda works.  It definitely keeps the viewer off-balance.

As you might expect from a film that’s constantly changing tone, Bleed is a bit uneven but it’s definitely a watchable and intriguing horror film and the film makes good use of that atmospheric prison.  For a lot of viewers, Bleed will probably be a love-it-or-hate-it type of film.  It’s well-directed but the story is just almost unnecessarily complicated.  My recommendation is that you watch it and judge for yourself.